20 November 2016

Arabic Particles : Learn Arabic Preposition عَنْ An

Learn Arabic Preposition عَنْ An meaning shades and usage.

See Arabic Particles Meanings series to learn Arabic particles and related words meanings.
Also see Arabic Particles Quick Study Tool.

Last edited on :  5 December 2016

1 (l,h,w,m) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is used to indicate
Passage or transition (sensibly or virtually) from the thing mentioned directly after it i.e. its genitive and distance from it. What has passed and became at a distance from its genitive.

[ from , off , away from , at a distance from ]

رَمَيْتُ عَنِ ٱلْقَوْسِ I shot off / from / away from the bow.
رَغِبَ عَنْهُ he desired to be away from it.
جَلَسَ عَنْ يَمِينِهِ he sat at a distance from his right hand.

2 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is used to indicate
distance from, motion away from, departure from a place or from beside a person.

[ from , off , away from , at a distance from ]

Above point examples valid for this point also.

3 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used for
marking the distance.

[ at a distance of ]

عَنْ خَمْسِينَ فَرْسَخًا at a distance of 50 parasangs (a measure of length).

4 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
the source from which something proceeds. Hence it shows:
i. The authority for any statement, tradition etc.
ii. The source cause from which an effect proceeds.

[ from , on the authority of , of ]

رَوَىٰ عَنْ فُلَانٍ he related from / on the authority of such a one.

5 (h,l) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
cause

[ from , because of ]

قُلْتُ هَٰذَا عَنْ عِلْمٍ I said this from / because of knowledge.

6 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used
after verbs denoting flight, avoidance, abstinence, caution, self-defense, forbidding & hindering, guarding & setting free etc.

[ from , away from ]

هَرَبَ عَنْهُ he fled from it.
وَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنْكَرِ and preventing / debarring from the disapproved / unrecognized. (attempted translation of words from The Qur'an 3:104)

7 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
doing something (e.g. fighting or paying) for or on behalf of another.

[ on behalf of ] ( in place of , for ) 

يُقَاتِلُ عَنْهُ he did mortal combat on behalf of him.
حَمَلَ عَنْهُ كَذَا وَ كَذَا دِرْهَمًا he bore on behalf of / in place of / for him so and so many dirhams.

8 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used
after verbs denoting informing, uncovering, removing, opening, revealing, asking & answering; for in these verbs there lies the idea of removal of a covering, real or figurative.

[ from , regarding , about ]

سَأَلَ عَنْهُ he asked regarding / about it.
كَشَفَ عَنْهُ ضُرُّهُ he removed from him his affliction.

9 (n) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
something regarding or about its genitive.

[ regarding , about , concerning , from ]

رَضِيَ عَنْهُ he is well pleased regarding / about / from him.

10 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used
after verbs denoting abandonment or neglect, and the ability to dispense with one thing because of the possession of another; because in them is implied the notion of turning away.

[ from , away from ]

صَفَحَ عَنْهُم he turned away from them
شَغَلَهُ ذَٰلِكَ عَنِ ٱلْفِكْرَةِ فِى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا فِيهِ that busied him away from / from the employment of thinking in everything except in it.
بَخِلَ عَنْ نَفْسِهِ he withheld from himself.

11 (w) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used
after verbs signifying to leave one behind or to surpass one.

[ from ]

فَضَلَ عَنْهُ he exceeded / surpassed from him.

12 (w,l,n) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
after (usually relating to time) . For distance, we sometimes use at a distance of, at a distance from etc. and relating to time, we can use after a duration of . 

[ after , after a duration of ]

عَمَّا قَلِيلٍ after a little (while) OR after a duration of a little (while) OR after a little duration

13 (h,l,n) . The Arabic preposition عَنْ An is also used to indicate
using a thing as an aid or instrument.

[ off , from , away from ]

رَمَيْتُ عَنِ ٱلْقَوْسِ I shot off / from / away from the bow.

14 (w)(n) . To differentiate between مِنْ and عَنْ which are 2 different prepositions with related meanings, according to some
مِنْ is used for what is near while عَنْ is used for what is remote.
According to some
After the verbs for taking, borrowing etc مِنْ is used for transportable objects e.g. coins while عَنْ is used for others e.g. knowledge.
Another way to contrast the 2 is that
مِنْ is for beginning of extent (originating from etc.) while عَنْ is for transferring or passing over from (passing from, passing beyond or transferring from etc.)
Such opinions may be valid in some cases but are not proven in all examples, so can be kept in mind as an opinion, but not as a fixed rule. All the established meaning shades of both should be studied and assigned accordingly based on context and situation.

15 (w, h, l) . Note that عَنْ is also sometimes used as a noun signifying side . In such cases it is usually used along with مِنْ and in rarer cases along with عَلَىٰ

[ side ]

مِنْ عَنْ يَمِينِي  from the side of my right hand. From my right hand side .
عَلَىٰ عَنْ يَمِينِي  on the side of my right hand. On my right hand side .

16 (n) . According to some عَنْ is sometimes used in a similar meaning shade to بِ or to فِى or to عَلَىٰ or to مِنْ or to some other preposition, but a closer examination shows that still there is a difference in meaning shades, and due to context, one may assume the meaning shade is of some other particle which is more often used in such contexts, but on a closer examination, a meaning shade closer the the core meaning shades of عَنْ seems more accurate. e.g.
عَنْ vs مِنْ can be understood better after reading both prepositions in detail, since meaning shades are close. Many times from is used to translate both prepositions. But once one has the core meanings in mind, he can understand the subtle differences of using one over the other in a context.

عَنْ vs بِ can be better understood in a similar context with following example:
does not speak from whim (more focus on from where it is transferring from or caused from) vs does not speak with whim (more focus on the quality with which it is being said ) .
Another example where it is alleged that عَنْ has been used in the sense of بِ without 1st checking in detail the fact that both have been used 1 time each with حَفِيّ in The Qur'an, giving a different meaning shade to حَفِيّ when it used with each of the 2 according to almost all translators. 
حَفِيٌّ عَنْهَا used in The Qur'an 7:187 and بِي حَفِيًّا used in The Qur'an 19:47. You can see this in detail using Qur'an Ayat Navigators specially Qur'an Ayat Navigator 2 and Qur'an Ayat Navigator 5 .

عَنْ vs فِى can be better understood in a similar context with following example:
Do not turn away from remembrance vs do not slacken in remembrance.

عَنْ vs عَلَىٰ can be better understood in a similar context with following example:
Exceeds from (more focus on going beyond or passing from another in something) vs exceeds over (more focus on going over or above another in something). 

17 . To study this particle further in many other books read the pages for this particle in
Arabic Particles Tool . Also to see other posts in Arabic Particles Meanings series.

18 . The book دراسات لأسلوب القرآن الكريم available for quick study on Arabic Particles Tool books has also been used in researching the usage of عَنْ in The Qur'an.  

References: When multiple references mentioned for a point, it means material selected from all quoted references more from some and less from others and all quoted references do not necessarily agree on everything. Material is not exactly copied but based on the reference quoted and I have made additions, editions & changes where required :
w = Wright Arabic Grammar English
h = Howell Arabic Grammar English
l = Lane's Lexicon
n = New indication by me
a = Arabic Almanac books
p = Arabic Particles Tool books
m = Sharh of Miatu Amil .

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